Study: Most Americans want gamification at work

Summary:Surprise, surprise: many Americans enjoy some kind of casual gaming at work. But this could actually be a good thing for businesses all around.

Surprise, surprise: many Americans enjoy some kind of casual gaming at work. But this could actually be a good thing for businesses all around.

According to a new study conducted recently by Saatchi & Saatchi S entitled "Engagement Unleashed: Gamification for Business, Brands and Loyalty," approximately half of working Americans are engaging in online social gaming during a typical work day. But more importantly, 55% of Americans want to work for a company that utilizes gamification to increase productivity.

Judah Schiller, CEO and co-founder of Saatchi S, agrees and asserts that gamification of the workplace has the potential to "foster innovation, reinforce positive behavior and increase engagement."

Let's get some of the more obvious results of the study out of the way first:

  • Heavy social gamers are more likely to be interested in clues-based challenges and are more aware of recent in-game ad campaigns from specific brands.
  • Among those interested in social challenges, males and tablet owners are most likely to view these challenges as ways to connect with the local community and make new friends.
  • 58% said it is important for brands to be fun and playful.
  • Green Giant scored high in positive sentiment following a Farmville campaign where players could earn cash to buy Green Giant products.

That last one wouldn't have crossed my mind initially (especially considering I don't play Farmville), but somehow it makes perfect sense. Moving on, let's take a look at some of the more interesting workplace-related results:

  • Younger Americans (18-24 year olds) were the group most willing to take a salary reduction to work for a socially responsible company.
  • 'Discounts' are the most compelling incentives for winning a social challenge, followed by 'Social Action' and 'Points Towards Loyalty Program'.  Only 1-in-4 of those interested in social challenges said that 'Status in the Community' was a very compelling incentive.
  • 27% of those interested in social challenges said they would be very likely to opt in to a social challenge sponsored by a large corporate brand; 64% very likely if it were initiated by friends or family.
  • When it comes to specific kinds of social challenges, respondents were most interested in participating in multi-player gaming and trivia challenges.  While not as many people are familiar with scavenger hunts and guessing/probability scenarios, they did express interest in participating in these kinds of challenges.

One could argue that the daily deals and discounts have permeated our culture so much these days as to why discounts are the largest incentive for participation. It's slightly surprising to see that workers would prefer multi-player games at work since most people tend to play online games by themselves. But at least this would have some team building aspect to it, and it probably does get lonely playing by oneself all the time.

The most surprising result is that younger Americans, which is also one of the demographics more largely out of work these days, are willing to be paid less to work for a company that is socially-minded. Thus, social interaction and the workplace culture are becoming more important than more money these days - at least to some people - even with a struggling economy.

Of course, all of this depends on the design of the game and what is the company's intention of promoting it. That could be teamwork, perhaps innovation if certain games and graphics spark imagination, etc. Otherwise, it could just be wasting time and inevitably make employees less productive.

Related coverage on ZDNet:

Topics: CXO

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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